WHat is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an early and intensive behavioral therapy, based on Skinner’s Operant Conditioning principles. Behavioral theorists believe that learning takes place through conditioning processes (classical and operant conditioning). Operant conditioning or instrumental learning is the learning process in which a behavior in a certain context is followed by an empowerer or punisher. A reinforcer increases behavior and a punisher (ignoring) decreases behavior. The central assumption is that all behavior has been learned. By applying learning principles in a targeted manner, (unwanted) behavior can also be unlearned.

Central to this treatment method is solving socially significant problems such as: problems in social and school skills, self-reliance and communication problems. The question is asked, “What is hindering this individual’s development?”

ABA is a child-friendly treatment that works with the motivation of the child. Therapy begins with building a safe and loving relationship with the child. In that relationship, the ABA therapist becomes a (role) model whom the child relies on to develop further. The skills are divided into small steps (task analysis). Each step is taught separately before the next step is discussed. In the end, the pieces together make up the entire skill. The reinforcer (reward) plays an essential role in teaching new skills. Directly rewarding any desired action and offering help in the event of a setback ensures that the behavior occurs more often.

The way people behave can be observed and analyzed to find out why they exhibit this behavior and what its function is. Usually people’s behavior is predictable to some degree. Within the tradition of ABA, methods have been developed to determine the function of behavior. This is called functional behavioral analysis.

How effective is ABA?

ABA is based on more than 50 years of scientific research. Treatment with ABA methodology is particularly successful in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (autism, asperger, PDD-NOS, MCDD), but children with ADHD, behavioral problems and anxiety disorders also benefit from this form of behavioral therapy. Lovaas in 1987 and Sallows and Graupner (2005) show in a scientific study that nearly half of children with autism go to regular education after ABA counseling. The Health Council of the Netherlands (2009) also states in its report that ABA is the most effective treatment method for children with ASD. ABA is known in America among parents and health insurers. This method is also increasingly used in Europe. For example, there are ABA centers in Germany, England, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Guidance forms that are part of the ABA program

Pivotal Response Training (PRT): a treatment aimed at communication and motivation for children, adolescents and adults who are insufficiently focused on the other, insufficiently use language as a means of communication and show little or no initiative.
Verbal Behavior (VB): focuses on the idea that a meaning of a word is found in its functions. The child is taught both the word and its functional application.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT): offers a structured learning environment with a clear start and end to each trial. DTT is mainly used to teach (school) skills and to learn to work at the table.
Natural Environment Training (NET): learning situations are created in natural environment for the preservation and / or generalization of skills.

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